Hanuma Vihari became the first player to score three centuries in the Irani Trophy. (Image credit: Twitter)
Hanuma Vihari created history by becoming the first player in the history of the Irani Trophy to score a hat-trick of centuries. Vihari achieved the feat when he smashed 114 and 180 in the clash against Vidarbha at the VCA stadium in Jamtha. The right-hand batsman had earlier smashed 183 in the 2018 edition of the tournament but Rest of India were thwarted by Wasim Jaffer’s monstrous 286 and knocks of 157 from Apoorv Wankhade and 120 from Ganesh Satish as Vidarbha notched up a massive 800/7 declared to clinch the Irani Trophy that year. In this season, Vihari’s knocks have put the match on a knife-edge with the reigning Ranji Trophy champions slightly in front.
Rest of India were boosted by Mayank Agarwal’s 95 and Vihari’s 114 but Akshay Wakhare and Aditya Sarwate took three wickets apiece to restrict them to 330. In response, Vidarbha were in trouble at 168/5 but Akshay Karnewar stitched a 58-run stand with Sarwate and a 79-run stand with Akshay Wadkar. Karnewar smashed a century and the lower-order partnerships helped Vidarbha take a 95-run lead.
In the second innings, Vihari’s 180 included 19 fours and four sixes and he was well-backed up by Ajinkya Rahane’s 87 and a 52-ball 61 from Shreyas Iyer as Rest of India made a bold declaration at 374/3, setting Vidarbha a target of 280. In the process, Vihari became the second player after Shikhar Dhawan to hit a century in both innings in the Irani Trophy. The left-hander achieved this feat in the clash against Rajasthan in 2011 in which he made 177 and 155 as Rest of India won the clash.
Vihari’s tally of three centuries in the Irani Trophy puts him in an elite list. He joins Sunil Gavaskar, Wasim Jaffer and Abhinav Mukund as the other players to have hit three tons. Gundappa Viswanath holds the record for most Irani Trophy tons with four. Vihari’s average of 238 is the best among batsmen who have played the Irani Trophy twice. Jaffer (1294*) and Viswanath (1001) are the only players to score over 1000 runs in this tournament. Mukund has the most matches with 13, followed by Jaffer and Gavaskar with 12.
If Vidarbha secure a win in the Irani Trophy, they will become the third team after Karnataka and Bombay to win the tournament two times in a row. Bombay achieved the feat four times (1960, 1963, 1964), (1970, 1971), (1976, 1977), (1995, 1996) while Karnataka won it in 2014 and 2015.
Vihari made his debut against England at The Oval in September 2018 and scored a solid 56. In the series against Australia, he weathered the new ball and scored some solid knocks as India won a series in Australia for the first time.